Johann Elias Ridinger, Armadillos

Endemic to Northeast Brazil

The Brazilian Three-banded Armadillo

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Shield Piglet or Armor Animal. The former on a low rock to the right, the other on the ground to the left. Colored etching with engraving. Inscribed: ARMADILLA Orientalis. / * TATU porcinus, TATU simplie: / ** TATU porcinus, omnium pulcherimus. / Ventres pilosi optime observati. // Schild-Ferkel / oder Panzer-Thier. // Cochon écaillé / ou cuirassé. // Familia III. Vierzähige. // J. El. Ridinger fec. et exc. A. V. 12⅜ × 8⅜ in (31.5 × 21.2 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 1042. – IN  THE  RIDINGERS’  ORIGINAL  COLORING  from the unnumbered Colored Animal Kingdom created since 1754 and concluded finally posthumously not before 1773 (“Complete copies are next to untraceable”, so Weigel, Art Cat., part XXVIII, Ridinger Appendix 63a as merely 120-sheet torso, 1857 ! , but also just individual plates quite rarely on the market only, at niemeyer’s presently nevertheless the one as the others). – Remaining uncolored contrary to the prospectus, a second edition from the plates shortened even under loss of animals and with modified titling and the Ridinger inscription removed, yet now numbered, was published by Engelbrecht/Herzberg in Augsburg 1824/25.

Ridinger, Armadillos (detail)
Armadillos: on the right the Brazilian three-banded armadillo (detail)

“ The illustration (of the armor animal or shield piglet) we owe to the kindness of Mr. Secretary Klein again … It is enveloped so to speak in a cuirass which consists of larger and smaller scales which are so hard

that  they  can  be  penetrated  by  no  bullet .

This animal is an accomplished ant hunter … However, if it cannot escape anymore, it rolls itself up in a ball and hides the head and tail so deep below the belly that one cannot see anything of both anymore and

that  no  tooth  and  no  claw … can  do  the  slightest  against  it

… one finds it in both East and West India ”

(Ridinger’s sons in the preamble to pt. II, p. 3, enclosed in copy). Thienemann on this:

“ Which Armadillo a) shall depict I am unable to determine, b) is the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, Dasypus tricinctus (= endemic to the northeast of Brazil and rarest species of armadillos). ”

Caviling at the not even that considerable smallness of the animals, Thienemann disregards, from the point of view here, both the relations necessary for the whole work and the painterly pictorial effect always attained by the scenery. Besides a platework simply requires the uniform format and the connoisseur values its generous design and just for this dismisses the trimmed down, uncolored new edition of the 1820s, of which Thienemann (p. 200) says many plates would look better now, yet has to admit that “also at the same time many tops of trees and shrubs, many decorations, indeed some animals had been taken away, too”. Indeed. One cannot have both at the same time.

With Jacob Theodor Klein (“Plinius Gedanensium”, Königsberg 1685 – Danzig 1759; town clerk in Danzig, later director of the Society of Naturalists Danzig co-founded by him, member of the Royal Society, London, and honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg; ADB XVI, 92 ff.), famous for his collections, Ridinger was in close communication and supported in his Colored Animal Kingdom undertaking in many ways, too. Following Klein’s classification according to kind and number of extremities – superceded by Linné’s anatomical classification – the early states of some plates of the set still show references to his Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis of 1751, as known to Thienemann for some plates and documented here for several more by a complete copy available here. Ridinger himself emphasizes by the preface in his words of thanks “in particular the tremendously beautiful collection of P(rofessor). Klein

of the Ludolph estate , which comprises nothing but original items. ”

Watermarked Strasbourg fleur-de-lis above arms + C & I Honig as that sturdy Dutch quality paper Ridinger used in line with his preamble to the Principal Colors of Horses

“on  account  of  the  fine  illumination”  for  the  colored  works

“as for this purpose it is the most decent and best”. – Margins on three sides 2-2.7 cm, below 4.5 cm wide. – Some small brown stains/spots almost only in the left white paper margin.

Offer no. 16,138 / EUR  430. / export price EUR  409. (c. US$ 502.) + shipping

Ridinger’s Colored Animal Kingdom in Original Coloring

available in

A Great Plenitude of Individual Plates


An Absolutely Exceptional Complete Provenance Copy

  1. “famous work which the merited naturalist Jacob Theodor Klein in Danzig published 1751 under the title: Quadrupedum Dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis. Enlarged and revised, he had translated it into the German himself and his friend Gottfried Reyger published it 1760 under the title: J. Th. Klein’s Natural Order and Augmented History of the Quadruped Animals. Ridinger was in close communication with Klein, was supported by him in many ways in this (Animal Kingdom) undertaking and followed Klein’s system” (Th., p. 200)

„ ich danke für die unbeschreiblich gut verpackte Sendung, die mich heute wohlbehalten erreichte, Sollten Sie mal wieder etwas von … haben, wäre ich für eine Benachrichtigung dankbar. Ebenso interessieren mich die Maler … Herzliche Grüße aus Hamburg “

(Herr A. W., 24. Oktober 2007)


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